Robert Evans dies at 89

Poster for Black Sunday, the 1977 movie produced by Robert Evans

Robert Evans, who had a remarkable career as an actor, studio executive and producer, has died at 89, according to Variety.

As an actor, Evans played MGM producer Irving Thalberg (Man of a Thousand Faces); as an executive at Paramount, he helped get The Godfather made; and a producer he made Chinatown, Marathon Man and Black Sunday.

Evans died on Saturday, Oct. 26, according to Variety.

Evans was as colorful, if not more so, than the characters in his various productions. His wives included actress Camilla Sparv (whose credits included the Matt Helm film Murderers’ Row); actress Ali MacGraw; and former beauty contest winner Phyllis George.

His personal life also included arrests of cocaine possession, according to the Variety obituary.

Nevertheless, when Evans was a Hollywood survivor — in a major way.

The Godfather was one of the most important movies of the 1970s. Chinatown had a huge impact on audiences, gathering 11 Oscar nominations, though only writer Robert Towne won. Black Sunday, a movie based on a Thomas Harris novel, dealt with Middle Eastern terrorism brought to the United States at the Super Bowl.

Evans was the ultimate Hollywood survivor. He wrote a memoir, The Kid Stays In the Picture: A Notorious Life. That was later the basis of a 2002 documentary. 

40th anniversay of the definitive Super Bowl film

Black Sunday poster

Black Sunday poster

Today is Super Bowl Sunday in the United States and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the definitive Super Bowl-related film, Black Sunday.

The John Frankenheimer-directed film was based on a Thomas Harris novel. The 1975 book was a hot property and Paramount snagged the film rights. It was Harris’ first novel and didn’t include Hannibal Lecter as a character.

The studio didn’t scrimp on the production. Besides hiring Frankheimer, the creative team, led by producer Robert Evans, included Ernest Lehman as one of three screenwriters and John Williams as composer. This would be Williams’ final score prior to the original Star Wars movie.

For the lead character, Evans & Co. cast Robert Shaw as an Israeli operative, Bruce Dern as a blimp pilot who becomes part of the terrorist plot and Marthe Keller as one of the terrorists.

The plot concerned Isrealis, working with American law enforcement officials clashing with Middle Eastern terrorists, who have targeted the Super Bowl, the championship game for the National Football League.

Harris’ novel used New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium (site of the 1975 Super Bowl) as a location. Frankheimer’s film utilized Miami’s Orange Bowl, site of the 1976 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.

The film crew worked as the game was 1976 played, with real life CBS announcers Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier making an appearance.

The movie came out in the spring of 1977. It generated a modest $15.8 million box office in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo.

Here’s the trailer of the movie:

Fritz Weaver, dependable character actor, dies at 90

Fritz Weaver's title card for the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Fritz Weaver’s title card for the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Fritz Weaver, a versatile character in television and movies, has died at 90, according to an obituary in The New York Times.

The Times’ obituary led with how Weaver won he won a Tony award and that he played a German doctor slain by the Nazis in the 1978 mini-series Holocaust.

Weaver’s career extended from the 1950s into the 21st century. It included performances in a number of 1960s spy shows, including the pilot to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (The Vulcan Affair, or its movie version, To Trap a Spy) and multiple episodes of Mission: Impossible. He also appeared in the pilot to Magnum: PI, which had a story line involving international intrigue.

The actor’s non-spy television appearances included two episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Weaver’s film appearances included 1964’s Fail Safe, as an Air Force officer who cracks under pressure, and Black Sunday, a 1977 John Frankenheimer-directed movie about terrorists who attempt an attack at the Super Bowl.

While Weaver never became a star, he found steady work on film and the stage. What follows is a clip of Weaver in a third-season episode of The FBI, where he played a member of a spy ring.